Complete Audio Systems At $499, $800 and $2500 at RMAF 2016

At RMAF 2016 in Denver, systems costing $499, $800 and $2500 were on display and available for listening.

You can get surprisingly fine turntable-based sound for your money at all three price points, but especially at $2500, where you get excellent bass extension, wide dynamics and a system that can play loud without compression.

2_channel_ears's picture

I was pretty impressed by the U-turn/Audioengine room. For $500 there's a lot sound, even more to bump the speakers up to the forthcoming HD3s, complete with headphone out. Make sense for a dorm room or cabin system, bedroom...

MonetsChemist's picture

I really appreciate seeing this kind of thing. Yes I know there is fancier stuff up the line but so nice to hear compliments for stuff my kids can (almost, sorta) afford.

garymckee's picture

Great to see the concept of packaging affordable audio systems coming back. My first true stereo was just such a combo, bought from Druckers Wholesale 1980 (Michael you might remember). $349, Sanyo TT, Sony Amp and a pair of AR18's. That was my gateway, these systems look a whole lot better for 2016 dollars. BTW still have the AR18's.

OldschoolE's picture

of being inclusive! I am always delighted to see stuff like this. Unlike many other journalists, you are not afraid of the more affordable gear as well as the gear most of us will never see in our dwellings. (What we have here is truly "fair and Balanced reporting" for those who tune to that familiar refrain). It's also your honest reviews that help a great deal, because people can then buy in confidence. If something is crap you say so and if something is fantastic you say so no matter the price. Honesty like that is rare these days.
Items such as the U-Turn table are worthy contenders and unusual for items of such low price, but thank the stars for those who have figured it out.
Everyone needs to come into the Hi-Fi arena somehow and you are helping by including something for everyone in your reporting. For that, I think many thank you.
P.S. Could not log into the Stereophile site for some reason, so just want to say that judging by the picture of the post there, it was good to see Jana looking like she was feeling better.

Mikeymort's picture

While I appreciate the reviews of $10,000 components and learn from them, I'm more interested in the affordable stuff that provides the most "bang for the buck". In the early seventies, I saved up for a system with an Allied receiver,Dynaco Speakers and a Garrard turntable. I've been upgrading ever since, though I still use the receiver and speakers for a second system in my man-cave, connected to an affordable DAC and a retired laptop.

garrard201's picture

How can they recommend that Audio-Technica 'table, or even create a room around it?! The AT-LP120 (looks like an SL-1200mkII), I can see; it's great. But the AT-LP60 is a groove chewer! It doesn't even have a counter-balance! If all that other gear sounded good with an AT-LP60 source, imagine what spending a few bucks more on a U-Turn or AT-LP120 would get you? Michael, I'm interested in your thoughts on this ... am I way off-base about the AT-LP60?

Manimaldoug's picture

Can you turn this up louder! And he did hilarious!

rexp's picture

Great video! Your colleague over at Stereophile thinks the digital sounded as good as the vinyl-is she deaf:

In the $2,500 room, the digital setup consisted of Elac Uni-fi UF5 speakers ($998/pair) and a Peachtree decco125 with wifi ($1,199). A neutral, clean, and satisfying sound.

The analog setup consisted of a Peachtree decco125 and a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Esprit SB turntable ($599) with the same Elac Uni-fi UF5 speakers. The Peachtree decco125 unit at the show was a prototype and has not yet been released to the public. I am told that it'll be out sometime before the end of the year, and can be ordered with or without wifi (a $100 option.)

We listened to the LP Led Zeppelin II, usually an indicator of how unappealing higher frequencies can be, but the Esprit SB and Uni-fi UF5's released them into the room gently and with ease.

The headphone rig consisted of MrSpeakers ETHER C Flow headphones ($1,799) and the infamous portable beast, the Chord Electronics Mojo DAC-headphone amplifier ($599).

The $2,500 room was my favorite room out of all the affordable rooms in terms of sonic return on investment and financial allotment between components. I was equally impressed with the digital, analog, and headphone systems'

Corsair's picture

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and it's possible (without being deaf) that that digital system did sound better to many compared to the analog.

Funny--though not shocking--to see the Mojo incorrectly referred to as "infamous."

gbougard's picture

I loved that video thanks Michael

I would love for you to go to a salvation army outlet or equivalent and pick up used equipment that rivals the 2500 bucks system for less than a hundred.

casperghst42's picture

It would be nice if someone could list the different systems, as this video is not viewable in Germany due to copyrights (yes, I know, I know).